Former Prague mayor heard on phone taps

The Czech daily newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes is running with a front page picture of former Prague mayor Pavel Bem, and a headline that reads, simply “The secret calls of Pavel B.” It makes for great reading if you’re a scandal monger, while others who consider themselves a bit more in the know will simply be nodding their heads, wondering why it took so long. Bem was caught on tape by the country’s secret service because they were tapping the phone of an influential lobbyist named Roman Janousek.

In case you’re wondering why you should care, another Prague kingpin named Peter Durica is alleged to have been recorded as well, discussing quite freely with Janousek about everything from city jobs, to master plan issues and questions about which pieces of land should be sold to whom.

What gives this story its extra kick is that these recording found their way into the private security agency ABL, whose former director Vit Barta eventually became Minister of Transportation for a junior coalition partner to Bem’s party, ODS.

If you’re not based in the Czech Republic, this will all seem a bit confusing. Suffice it to say that if you’ve been following the corruption scandal that brought down the Slovak government, this looks like another story that will run and run. The Czechs may have found their own gorilla.

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